Interracial dating

Is My Status Elevated If I Date Outside My Race?

Back in June 2013, a Belgian national stopped me on the staircase of the Westlands mall. He needed directions to the Westgate mall and had understandably, ended up at the Westlands mall instead. Those two names could confuse any foreigner.

I offered to show him the way and out of gratitude and courtesy, he insisted that we have coffee together at one of the coffee shops upon arrival. Now the most interesting bit is that, while on normal occasions I would walk into a coffee shop and nobody would be fretting all over me asking what I needed, the fact that I was in this man’s company threw the staff into a frenzy.

All of a sudden, we became the center of attention with everyone jostling to serve us. I chuckled to myself then, knowing that the staff present at the coffee shop had mistaken us to be in a relationship. Little did they know that we were complete strangers, who had happened to bump into each other, a couple of minutes back and ended up chitchatting.

Of course if I had been in my own company, I would have been served alright because this is a reputable coffee shop with well trained staff. But then I wouldn’t have ended up feeling like each one of the staff was trying really hard to catch my attention. I would have had my coffee and walked out without causing much of a frenzy.

However, on this particular day, I felt as if I had been given a certain sense of importance, that I wouldn’t have been given on a normal day in my own company or in the company of someone of the same race as me. And seeing that we were just about the only ones in the whole coffee shop on a very chilly Nairobi weekday, from where the staff stood, I could sense that they were all trying to figure out how me and this man ended up being in a “relationship”.

As much as African-Kenyans may try to pretend that they are past that stage of viewing other races as superior to their own, there is always that underlying awe in us, directed at an African woman dating or married to a man, who is of a different race. The same is not so strong for an African man married to a woman from another race.

I have in the recent past watched a couple of interracial couples where the woman happens to be African and have on most occasions, ended up with more questions than answers. I admire interracial couples as they just go on to prove that love can concur all boundaries.

I’m also aware that for two people of different races to decide to get into a solid relationship, they were willing to fully understand and appreciate their different cultures. That is not an easy feat. It needs a lot of sacrifice and an open mindedness on their part.

However, I always seem to get the feeling from some of the interracial couples I have observed, that the woman has suddenly developed this heightened sense of importance just from being with this man. I have encountered African women in a relationship with a European or American or Asian or Arabic man, in their dainty high heels, perfectly done make up, not a hair out of place, with a character that seems borrowed.

This has always got me wondering why we don’t go all the way to act this way with our fellow African men. Why does it seem that with a foreign man of a different race, we suddenly develop this inherent need to elevate our status? And if I was to get into a relationship with someone of a different race, would I equally feel the need to discard my old personality? Can’t my old personality appeal to this man who is in love with me?

I tend to think that Africans in general suffer from intense inferiority complex. We may claim to be liberated and capable of exercising democracy in our respective nations but the shackles of colonial mentality are still with us. The fact that we many times fail to appreciate our own is testament of how deep rooted this problem is.

I am yet to encounter several relationships of two Africans, where the woman seems to be trying too hard to please this man she is with as is the case with the interracial ones. And by trying, I mean to the point where it is obviously noticeable that she is on a mission to upgrade her status to match that of her husband’s or boyfriend’s.

We claim to be strong women who can never change for a man but I tend to think otherwise when it comes to interracial dating. If society treated me with the kind of importance that I encountered at the coffee shop with the Belgian national, wouldn’t I be equally pushed to feel like I needed to act differently while in his company just to prove society right?

Are we in the first place, dating foreigners of different races for the right reasons or just to prove a point? Could the fact that we consider our own African men to be on a much lower scale, when compared to their brothers from other races be actually a figment of our own imagination? Must I act in a certain way just to be with this man of a different race?

Do you have any answers to my many questions?

Are African Men Entirely Clueless On Romance?

I recently stumbled on a comment on some Kardashian related post. Someone had posed this question in what seemed like anger, disgust even; “why are all the Kardashian women dating Black men?!” I must admit that I have in the recent past equally got puzzled by the choice of men to date or get married to in the Kardashian family. Whenever I pore over Kardashian related news and  comments, I always seem to get the idea that Americans are pretty tired of having this family constantly shoved into their faces by the media. Well, Americans, you are not alone.

You see even here in Africa, Kenya to be precise, we are starting to get a little too tired of all the Kardashian themed shows that seem to dominate the E channel. And while quite a number of women genuinely admire the Kardashians’ fashion sense, yet a sizeable number gets really irked by the domination of this family on the media. So fret not brothers and sisters, we are in the same boat of irritation, if we choose to put it like that.

Kim Kardashian and hubby Kanye. Photo courtesy of www.people.com

Kim Kardashian and hubby Kanye. Photo courtesy of http://www.people.com

As a Kenyan woman, I’m very aware of how we tend to rate our fellow Kenyan men on a lower scale while compared to the European and American men or any man who is not of African descent. It’s really interesting that nowadays, I tend to bump into interracial couples on almost a daily basis with of course the man being White and the woman, Kenyan. I mean, these White men are very romantic when compared to the normal African man who probably grew up in the village, went to school at some point barefoot and only landed in the city for campus, we may be tempted to reason.

Well, I would like to question what romance really means to some women. Is romance the ability of a man to be loaded (with cash of course) and to spoil a woman silly, upgrade her even? Or is romance the tendency of a man to treat you right, to listen to you, to support you, to comfort you while in distress and to respect you as a woman and the role you play in his life? If we choose to look at romance from these two perspectives, then I begrudgingly have to admit that most of us Kenyan women or just to be fair, African women are lost.

I have no idea whatsoever why the Kardashian women settle on their choices of Black men but seeing how high maintenance these women come across to be, I tend to reason that these Black men are up to the game. Could be to boost their ratings, who knows? It would be unwise of me to carry on with my list of probabilities seeing that I’m Kenyan born and bred.

However, there was a wide range of wealthy romantic White men for these women to take their pick from but they instead settled on these particular men. Could it be far fetched for us to actually conclude that the Black men in the Kardashian women’s lives are actually romantic? And that the poser of the aforementioned question, happened to be a Black/African woman who over time has accepted the stereotype that Black men are no good or only good for Black women, so why are these White women with them in the first place?

I have nothing against an African woman choosing to date a White man. But if at all she’s of the notion that African men are clueless on romance and therefore her choice to date the former, then I have a problem. We have to admit that as Africans, for the longest time possible we have battled esteem issues with our kind. Why do we have this idea that we are inferior when compared to other races and therefore consider the weaknesses of our African men, as something that is equally inferior to other races? Is it because we allowed our once oppressors to totally brainwash us into believing that nothing good can come out of our race? Just to make things straight, our once oppressors being the colonial masters of many years gone by.

Well, it might surprise you that domestic violence is also an occurrence in countries in the West and is perpetrated by equally, men of descents that are nothing close to being African. So that is not reason enough to dismiss our African men with the notion that they can be violent toward women. Men looking down on women happens all over the world. It simply depends on the mindset of a man and at times has nothing whatsoever, to do with culture or how the man has been socialized to view women after circumcision. Yet another reason that is not justification enough to rate our African men poorly. Levels of civilization depend on one’s open mindedness and if he is not willing to be civilized, then you have no business being with him. However, there are numerous African men who are civilized or act as urbanites and not countrymen if we are to be blunt in that sense.

Media has contributed greatly in giving African women the false illusion that White men are better in matters love and treatment than the normal African man. African women on the other hand are wrong to judge the African man based on how society has groomed him to be a man. We do not expect our African men to hold hands in public and to plant wet kisses on our lips in full view of everyone just to appreciate us, yet we secretly do. To be honest, most African societies frown on emotional men. Even in funerals which are obviously sad and painful affairs, men in many African societies are expected to remain strong and not shed a tear in public even if it happens to be their wives who have passed on. We then have our Mexican soaps where men openly shed tears while professing their love to women and we subconsciously internalize that to mean romance?!

Romance should not be gauged by one’s race. As a matter of fact, romance has absolutely nothing to do with race. And if as a woman you desire to have a romantic man in your life, then perhaps it is time that you truly appreciated yourself to the point where even an African man will see the need to romance you.

 

 

 

 

 

The Misconceptions Surrounding Cougar Relationships

One of the most epic cougar relationship we ever encountered in Kenya definitely has to be that of Wambui Otieno and Peter Mbugua. At the time of their civil wedding, Wambui was 67 years old while Mbugua was only 25 and boy, did tongues wag! The Redykyulass trio (a quite popular comedy group in Kenya at the time) re-enacted the whole wedding thing and it was simply hilarious.

A few years later, there happened to be yet another wedding between a much younger Kenyan man and an obviously older Kenyan woman. It equally made it to prime time news just like the Wambui-Mbugua one did.

The reason for this furore; we haven’t quite embraced this whole cougar relationship thing in Africa. Not that there’s anything wrong with us frowning upon an older woman and a much younger man getting into a relationship. It’s simply how our cultural make up has been for years. It has always been the other way round. Older guy, younger woman. Much younger woman or girl even, in some communities.

Wambui Otieno and her much younger hubby,Peter Mbugua. Photo courtesy of http://www.youtube.com

My most favorite couple in a cougar kind of relationship happened to obviously be Mariah Carey and heartthrob, Nick Cannon. I have been a fan of Mariah’s voice from the time I could make out the difference between good music and bad music. Thanks to having a much older sibling, I know most of her early 90s hits by heart. Nick Cannon of course is such a good looking guy. Plus they take lovely photos together. So when I got to hear that they split, I was quite disappointed.

 

Anyways, there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding cougar relationships and especially in our continent. There are those interracial types, where it’s quite obvious that the younger African guy is after the older White woman’s money which further contributes to it all.

Then there’s this notion that an older woman should be done with sex and therefore seeking a younger man to date only reeks of her immorality. Yet another notion points a finger at the woman for supposedly corrupting this young man’s morals, when she should have left him to date women in his age bracket. To top it all of, in many quarters, cougar relationships are considered unAfrican.

I have never quite paid attention in the past to this particular kind of relationship. However, I have always been curious as to why a woman rumored to be married to a much younger man, elicited whispers of prejudice from society. Almost like she had committed the biggest crime and therefore deserved to be punished for it with rumors and nasty gossip.

Then being a phenomenon synonymous with the West, it has always been made to seem unnatural, yet older men in some societies in Africa, were still keen on marrying girls barely in their teens. It has actually taken the intervention of feminists to imprint early marriages as unsavory in the minds of societies, keen on marrying off young girls to old, greying men.

Being a feminist, I firmly believe that no woman should be put at fault for having sexual desires no matter her age. If at all a woman at a certain age should be done with having sex, then the same should be applied to the male gender.

The idea that men can be excused for having sexual desires way past their 60s and 70s and women should be frowned upon for having the same at that age, should totally be done away with. It is this belief that actually contributes to society pointing fingers at a woman married to a younger man as only being after sex at her age! A further misconception that marriage is only about sex and nothing else.

Marriage according to my understanding, is about much more than sex alone. It is understanding, support, companionship, care, friendship, sacrifice, building a family…with sex being part of the equation and not the overall ingredient. Wow, preached that like someone who’s been married for years already!

So if this woman is getting all that from a younger man and feels ready to spend the rest of her life with him, I think it would be unfair for the rest of us to go all judgmental on her. Plus as per my Christian understanding, no definite age bracket between couples is given in the Bible. I guess being very spiritual as a continent, many of us are tempted to find something wrong with an older woman getting into a relationship with a much younger man, that may lead to marriage.

We tend to assume that it’s against Biblical teachings because we are more familiar, with the other way round and saw examples of the man being older than the woman in the Bible and not vice versa. But hey, I’m no teacher of scripture so it would be rather unwise for me to give my opinion on this in spiritual terms. These are basically my views.

Whether to get into a cougar kind of relationship or not is only a matter of choice between the persons involved. It is quite unreasonable trying to impose our own beliefs on others of a different belief. I believe that there are societies that see nothing wrong with this phenomenon. If we are not into it, then we have no business whatsoever paying attention to it. If we are comfortable with it and are in it for the right reasons and not our own secret, sly motivations then, why not?

I would love to hear your views too 🙂

 

Why I Think Njoki Chege’s Article On Interracial Dating Gone Wrong Is On Point

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I’m posting in reference to the above article, by controversial Saturday Nation, City Girl Columnist, Njoki Chege that appeared today on the paper. And while I may not necessarily agree with all the articles that this young woman writes, I can’t help but mention that her brashness sometimes makes a lot of sense.

I even went ahead to comment on the status update last night on Facebook, concerning the said article and so far, the feedback I have gotten just from that simple comment of mine is very positive. It actually formed the inspiration behind this post.

A section of readers have chosen to bash Njoki for this article with some going as far as branding her a racist. Nowadays, I have come to realize that the word racist is being thrown around carelessly. Quite recently, I got branded a racist for claiming that someone else was. This person of interest had decided to attack a particular nationality and judging by his previous displays of sheer arrogance and ignorance toward other races, I was led to conclude that he is probably a racist.

My point was that he had to think first before making certain statements as they are surely going to ruffle some feathers. And suddenly someone called me a racist. Of course that didn’t bother me as such because I knew what had motivated me to state that. It is not a word I use on a daily basis considering that I come from a predominantly African population.

Moving on…

White men in recent times are increasingly taking advantage of desperate Kenyan women who get into relationships with them. About a year back, there was a case of a Kenyan University student who had been cohabiting with an older White man without the knowledge of her family, dying in the house. Apparently, her foreign boyfriend had locked her indoors denying her access to her insulin (she was diabetic) if my memory serves me right.

The end result, a young life snuffed out so senselessly.

Njoki Chege on the other hand spoke of yet another young Kenyan woman, whose sexual violation by a White man she got romantically involved with, got filmed and the clip has been doing the rounds on the Kenyan social media scene. About a month back, as I was walking down the streets of Nakuru, I saw a woman of nearly my mother’s age, being groped shamelessly by a White man I assumed was her boyfriend. It was a disgusting sight seeing that in African society we don’t really engage in PDA.

You see, the issue is not with the White men with ill intentions who get into relationships with Kenyan women. The issue lies with us Kenyan women who decide to take our golddigging habits a notch higher by nabbing these wazungus we assume are rich. The issue lies with our refusal to respect ourselves and our bodies therefore leaving ourselves vulnerable to all kinds of ills from these White men, who obviously smell our greed from miles away. Similar with African men, you show them that you are after their pockets and they get back at you by misusing you sexually.

No man whether black or white can immediately resort to treating a woman badly if she appears motivated, focused and sure of herself. Even if some may try to push the buttons a little, the end result will most probably be a shameful telling off from the said woman. But a woman who appears unfocused and willing to do anything just for money, easily falls prey to those kinds of men whose view of women is perverted and out of the ordinary.

Of course there are those wazungus who have refused to let go of the slave mentality, according to Njoki Chege and therefore still view Africans as lesser beings, to be treated like a mound of dirt. However, activists have done a very good job over the years, in restoring the respect of the races that were once considered a minority.

And though their efforts have gone a very long way in changing the mindsets of those stubborn willed individuals reluctant to embrace change, it doesn’t mean that we can now sit pretty and assume that all is well. We have to continually carry on the mantle of activism not by acting cruelly or with contempt, but by showing those wazungus with the slave mentality, that they are the ones who have a lot of changing to do and not us.

Just because you have trouble paying your bills, dropped out of school, got children out of wedlock or lost a husband to hard liquor, does not mean that you should fall for that mzungu’s charms you see frequenting that restaurant you work in as a waitress. It does not mean that you should spend hours at a cyber, searching online for prospective White men, whom you have no way of telling if they are registered sexual offenders back home or not. It does not mean that every pale skin you see translates into wads of dollars likely to get you out of poverty.

It is this desperate and warped sense of mind by a section of Kenyan women, that lands them into hot soup with foreigners, not interested in true love but only a fulfillment of their out of this world sexual fantasies. Not all Mzungus you see visiting our country have ill intentions toward Kenyan women.

But how do we make them view us?

We make them view us as cheap women, lacking in any ounce of dignity, willing to go as far as engaging in beastiality acts, just to make some money for ourselves. To live the good (but miserable) life. We show them that we do not even appreciate the color of our skin, by lightening ourselves so that the Mzungu can love us more.

These foreigners are not fools. They smell insecurity, a willingness to prostitute, desperation and greed in us and they chuckle to themselves while they walk hand in hand down the street with you, once in a while groping your ass in public or planting a wet kiss on your lips. Things I’m 100% sure they would not do with a woman who carried herself with dignity or with their fellow white women.

I have seen Kenyan women get married to sober minded White men, who treat them respectfully and lovingly and all because the initial motivation behind their relationship, was not all about money and the perks of being associated with a Mzungu. Kenyan women need to learn that in order to get true love, you have to carry yourself as a woman deserving of true love and not a cheapskate. And as brash as Njoki sounds in this article, she speaks the hard truth.

If you are an African Woman, flaunt it!!!

I have never considered myself to be a black woman and i’m almost 100% sure that most African women, who have the privilege to travel and live in foreign countries where those of our heritage are referred to as `black women’, usually face quite a challenge getting used to that reference. The issue is not in the name. I personally don’t have a problem with the term `black woman.’ Rather it is the fact that most of us who have been born and brought up in Africa have grown up with a majority of people of the same skin color. In my country for example, we use tribe to identify ourselves. Not very wise of us but from colonial times where the colonialist required African men to wear a Kipande (identification document) with a few basic personal details, including tribe where one belonged to, i guess Kenyans got used to identifying themselves by tribe. I’m Kenyan by the way, for those who are and have been wondering. And therefore it is not uncommon to hear a Kenyan woman proudly identifying herself by tribe so `black woman’ is kind of quite foreign to us.

Anyways, i usually get very fascinated in a positive way by interracial relationships. I particularly like the merging of two different cultures by two people who do not belong to the same race. And if there are bi-racial kids in the picture, it makes it even better. However, there is a kind of worrying trend that i have come to notice when a section of women in my country in particular, get into relationships with White men. It is almost as if this section of women literally forget themselves and the fact that they are actually African. It is rather comical because it’s usually very noticeable to all those around them who often shake their heads in wonder. Of course there are many Kenyan women who date and marry White men and hardly change. As a matter of fact, you can barely notice them on the streets. But there is still that small section which decides to either bleach their skin (with highly noticeable results), get very skinny, act in a certain `borrowed’ way or dress very skimpily all because they have managed to nab that European or American guy.

I’m reminded of a laughable incident in my church a couple of years back when a young Kenyan woman decided to attend service. Of course there is usually that moment when visitors are welcomed and asked to stand so automatically she had to stand. What caught our attention was the fact that she had on this really nice weave with a purple shade on one side. Now being in my hometown with quite a number of conservative people, already that purple shade on the weave was a cause for alarm but in church, everyone wants to seem hospitable so we didn’t show it. Anyways after service, my sister, cousin and i were naturally curious to see the rest of her outfit. Mind you we didn’t know yet that she was in an interracial relationship but we did soon enough cuz she had this cute little bi-racial daughter with her that day. And eventually she came walking out of the church gates in a really tiny purple dress (fit for a club), 6 inch heels and her daughter in tow. And you can imagine the scene she caused. Literally everybody’s eyes were on her including the churchy looking refined family men. They must have gotten into a lot of trouble with their obviously churchy wives that day for ogling. And we wondered how she had sat in that dress in church if it was that short when she was standing. I know, so judgmental and bitchy of us but we couldn’t help it.

Yet another almost similar incident happened in a market place in the town i grew up in before moving to my current. We were walking down the street toward a popular supermarket directly opposite the open air vegetable and fruit market and ahead of us was an interracial couple. Now for some reason, this White man decided to keep caressing the small of his girlfriend’s back as they walked which of course caused an uproar among the market men and women. They kept hurling insults at them for acting so scandalous on the street. Well, i couldn’t blame them cuz in African culture, PDAs are  highly discouraged but as if in total defiance, the guy continued caressing and the chic seemed utterly oblivious of the commotion they had since caused. I guess they were pretty lucky that it didn’t turn ugly. A lot goes on in the market place at times.

It’s kind of sad for some African women to actually feel pressured enough to change when they get into interracial relationships. I guess we have this misplaced notion that being and acting African wouldn’t be so endearing to the man from another race that we are currently dating. We are actually ashamed to embrace ourselves and heritage. And you might be totally surprised that the man hasn’t voiced any opinion yet that he wants you to dress in a certain way or wear your hair in a certain way or act in a certain way. As a matter of fact, we are equally ignorant of how the White woman behaves other than what has been fed to us by the foreign shows we watch no wonder the scandalous dressing by some in these types of relationships. And we end up making total fools of ourselves because those of our culture can tell that we are trying really hard to be something we are not. We elicit tag names and branding which we could have otherwise avoided if we embraced our Africanness in this amazing new relationship we are in.

If you as an African woman in an interracial relationship do not bother to communicate with your man on what is acceptable in your culture and society and what is not, then he has no way of knowing. After all, he is a foreigner. And he will therefore act in ways with you in public that will be offensive to those around you. If you are not comfortable in your skin, then you have no business looking for validation in an interracial relationship cuz chances are you will hardly get it. You will bleach your skin, cake your face in make up, dress scandalously, get skinny and to top it all off, make a clown of yourself. Again your man won’t notice your clownish attempts because he is foreign and therefore without a knowledge of how things are conducted in your country. So to him, it won’t be a cause for embarrassment but to you, everyone else around you will be laughing at your flimsy attempts to match up to your man.

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We are African women and should be proudly so. We are naturally curvaceous, it is no crime. We can be really dark, chocolate or of a much lighter shade. Our hair doesn’t grow to amazing lengths. It is kinky, of reasonable full length and many times unmanageable but we have come up with all these wonderful numerous ways to style it as a result of that. Our society dictates that we dress modestly if we are not in traditional regalia, that is. Of course there are foreign fashion trends that we have picked up but still, despite the fashion trends we know how to dress acceptably because a lot of us in our society are still very conservative, chauvinistic even. We don’t walk around kissing our men and caressing them passionately in public. It is simply not us. Then why forget all that the minute you meet a man not of your race? As a matter of fact, being an African woman you should flaunt whoever you are and whatever ideals you believe in. And i’m very sure that these foreign men we date would respect us more if we showed them that we are proud and appreciative of who we are whether they find it awkward or not. I guess it will be highly endearing to them than our attempts at being endearing. Men always love women who are sure of themselves and not desperately trying to be someone else. It is what keeps them around much longer than all our tactics combined. So if you are an African Woman, flaunt it!!!